Frequently Asked Questions
What will I get out of Aikido?
First, I hope that you will find Aikido to be a fun activity! The founder intended the art to be something anyone at any age from 8 to 88 can practice in a safe and enjoyable manner. Cooperation is key in aikido, so instead of a dojo built around who is best in class, our practice is about all of us rising together in understanding with each other’s help.
Next, you will be learning a profoundly effective art to stay safe when there is destruction afoot. People often ask, "Will this work on the street in case of a real-life deadly attack," and my answer is always the same: "Yes, in accordance with your ability in the situation to employ the principles of the art in an appropriate manner." Sometimes that question comes from the fear of being victimized, and the desire to be able to force a situation to change in one's favor. In aikido we don't fool ourselves into thinking we could ever be physically strong enough to beat someone like Mike Tyson in a fight, or dedicate ourselves to spending as much time in a fighting arena as he does to be the World Champion, but we learn that we can harmonize with anyone, and if the attacker's attack is committed, the principles of aikido create an outcome of safety for all.
For that it takes practice, just the same way any physical activity must be learned, from walking as an infant to competing as an athlete in the Olympic Games to running a Fortune 500 corporation. One must learn the principles of the activity, be in alignment with its purpose and be trained enough to skillfully perform the activity with full presence of being.
However, usually the sooner that you understand that the application of aikido principles begins with an open connection to your partner, you will be well on your way to knowing how to dismantle any attack before it begins.
Sometimes even more challenging are the applications of Aikido principle to non-physical conflict such as in the home or work place. The principles of aikido can be applied with people you love and love you since the purpose is for everyone in the interaction to benefit. And that brings us to perhaps the most important gift Aikido gives us.
In the practice of aikido we have a partner who acts in some ways as an instant, human biofeedback machine. What this does for us is give us a clear indication as to our state of being and how that state of being is either facilitating harmony or producing resistance. It is in this realm the farthest-reaching benefits of aikido can be found. In Aikido there is a Japanese saying often repeated: Masakatsu Agatsu, translated as "True Victory is Victory over Oneself." Through our practice we begin to see how we can shift our relationship to the world and find true happiness.
Finally, aikido will benefit you in ways you aren't expecting. One visitor from England with over 20 years experience in aikido as a practitioner and teacher of the art wrote this in his blog about his tour of various U.S. West Coast dojos (http://www.aikiweb.com/blogs/mark-freemans-blog-7004/blog-7-9-days-in-the-la-lab-4602/): What I came away with, that has been hugely beneficial to me is this -- We practiced "flooding the system with ki" which is tapping into the 'source' of all life from the big bang on, when this is expressed, all is transformed. Now my biggest breakthrough is that, I now understand that internal conflict can be transformed in the same way. If I am troubled by my thoughts (and I am quite good at doing this, as I imagine most of us are), if I accept what is and 'flood the system' with ki/beneficent intention etc. then all the negative energy is transformed. This insight alone is worth its weight in gold to me.
It is my sincere hope that all students of Aikido experience this benefit of the art!